MOSCOW, September 1 (RIA Novosti) - During the Cold War, the United States recruited and trained civilian Alaskans as part of a covert network designed to collect intelligence in preparation for a Russian invasion, the AP reported.
"The military believes that it would be an airborne invasion involving bombing and the dropping of paratroopers," one FBI memo said of the expected Russian attack, according to the AP. Expected targets were the cities of Nome, Fairbanks, Anchorage and Seward.
The FBI consulted federal judges as well as the head of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage and an Anchorage physician to recruit loyal Alaskan candidates suitable for the job.
The project called "Washtub" had two phases including the stay-behind agent program and a CIA-coordinated program requiring civilian agents to organize evacuations of downed military aircrews at risk of Soviet capture.
The agents were trained in coding and decoding messages, but learning these techniques was "an almost impossible task for backwoodsmen to master in 15 hours of training," one declassified document said, according to the AP.
The project ran from 1951 to 1959 and was one of the "most extensive and long-running Cold War projects," Deborah Kidwell, official historian of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations was quoted as saying by the AP.